Tribpedia: Department Of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is the state agency charged with overseeing agricultural business and collecting statistics on crops and livestock. The agency was established by the Texas Legislature in 1907.

TDA is based in Austin, Texas and has five regional offices, four satellite offices, seven laboratories and six livestock export facilities.

The commissioner of agriculture, who is elected ...

Mike Skinner on Dec. 26, 2013 outside the farmhouse on the land five miles east of Spearman that he sold last spring. Three generations of his family had farmed the land.
Mike Skinner on Dec. 26, 2013 outside the farmhouse on the land five miles east of Spearman that he sold last spring. Three generations of his family had farmed the land.

Farms Aren’t Going Away, but a Lot of Little Ones Are

A growing number of Texans are leaving farming and ranching because of opportunities in urban areas, a spike in land prices and concerns about risky weather patterns fueled by a blockbuster drought that continues to plague much of the state. And the agricultural workforce is not getting any younger.

 

Texas Farmers, Ranchers Hit Hard by Shutdown

During the federal government shutdown, Texas agricultural producers were unable to access key pricing data, low-cost loans for their operations and disaster relief payments that many have been hoping for. Perhaps the biggest issue for the industry is that the shutdown had stalled negotiations on a new farm bill, which was already overdue.

Field Unit Manager Stephen Daniel of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program checks a boll weevil trap located adjacent to a cotton field in Mustang Ridge, Texas, Aug. 14, 2013.  Daniel uses a TBWEP pickup truck as a mobile office where he weekly checks dozens of traps for the pest insect outside of Austin.
Field Unit Manager Stephen Daniel of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program checks a boll weevil trap located adjacent to a cotton field in Mustang Ridge, Texas, Aug. 14, 2013. Daniel uses a TBWEP pickup truck as a mobile office where he weekly checks dozens of traps for the pest insect outside of Austin.

South Texas Makes Gains in Fight Against Boll Weevils

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, eradication efforts aimed at the boll weevil — an insect that can destroy the yields of cotton plants — have lagged behind the rest of the state. But in the past year, weevil numbers have dropped precipitously in the region, a decline due in part to drought conditions in the area.

Evan Smith talks with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples during a TribLive event on May 2, 2013.
Evan Smith talks with Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples during a TribLive event on May 2, 2013.

TribLive: A Conversation with Todd Staples

Todd Staples has served as Texas' agriculture commissioner since 2007. Before that, he served as a state representative for House District 11 from 1997-2000 and as a state senator for Senate District 3 from 2001-2005. He has announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor in 2014. A former rancher and businessman, Staples graduated with honors from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics.

This event was recorded before a live audience in Austin on May 2, 2013. Our TribLive events feature discussion with our honored guests followed by questions from the audience. For more information on Tribune events, please visit http://www.texastribune.org/events/.

Livestock from Licon Dairy, on Feb. 19, 2013, outside of Fort Hancock, Texas, in Hudspeth County. The dairy farm had 42 acres and approximately 40 heifers.
Livestock from Licon Dairy, on Feb. 19, 2013, outside of Fort Hancock, Texas, in Hudspeth County. The dairy farm had 42 acres and approximately 40 heifers.

Bill Could Bring Dairy Farming Back to El Paso

Dairy farming has been banned for a decade in El Paso County and a sliver of Hudspeth County because of concerns over bovine tuberculosis. State Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, hopes to bring back the $41 million-per-year industry to her district by repealing the ban and forming a commission to study the disease in the region. 

Horse Slaughtering to Be Focus of Senate Hearing

  • 4Comments

Texas was home to two of the last three horse slaughterhouses in the country. After a shift in Congress, it is now possible for slaughterhouses to return. On Tuesday, the Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee will hear testimony about how the end of horse slaughtering has affected the state.

Advocates Worry Food Aid Cuts Could Hurt Texas Families

As legislators tinker with what some say is the cornerstone of America's food safety net, some Texans are concerned about what cuts could mean for low-income families, if they come to fruition. Many legislators, though, argue that the food stamp program has grown too large, and become too expensive.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is abandoning the use of hot-iron branding and moving towards the use of ear tags for the identification of cattle.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is abandoning the use of hot-iron branding and moving towards the use of ear tags for the identification of cattle.

Beef Stakes

Texas Weekly

The Texas economy is churning out record job numbers, but the $7.5 billion cattle industry isn’t doing too hot — or rather, it’s too hot.

Victor Elizando and Noe Obregon rest in the shade during a visit to the farmland Obregon used to tend before the USDA's discriminatory loan practices put him out of business.
Victor Elizando and Noe Obregon rest in the shade during a visit to the farmland Obregon used to tend before the USDA's discriminatory loan practices put him out of business.

Drought Deepens Worries Over Aging Farmer Population

The U.S. is losing a generation of family farmers that may not be replaced, according to national agriculture statistics. And as Mose Buchele of KUT News reports for StateImpact Texas, the drought may be exacerbating that trend in Texas. Read the full story at StateImpact Texas.

Texas Farmers Watered Crops Knowing They Wouldn't Grow

By mid-summer last year, many cotton farmers gave up all hope of producing a crop. Yet they had to keep watering, using precious resources from diminishing aquifers. That's because insurance companies, before making payouts, would ask for proof that the farmers had tried to make their land produce.

Left to right: Leland Stukey Kelly Young, J.O. Dawdy and Kirby Lewis photographed in Floydada, TX, on Mar. 8, 2012.
Left to right: Leland Stukey Kelly Young, J.O. Dawdy and Kirby Lewis photographed in Floydada, TX, on Mar. 8, 2012.

Texas Farmers Battle Ogallala Pumping Limits

As the Ogallala Aquifer slowly declines, some West Texas farmers are now facing limits on the amount of water they can pump from wells on their land. Many aren't happy about it — and in the wake of a February court ruling, this could be just the beginning of renewed groundwater wrangling across the state.

L to R:  Ruth Sagehorn and Virginia Schuerman look at entries in the citrus fruit exhibit at the Citrus Fiesta in Mission on Saturday Jan 28th, 2012.
L to R: Ruth Sagehorn and Virginia Schuerman look at entries in the citrus fruit exhibit at the Citrus Fiesta in Mission on Saturday Jan 28th, 2012.

Greening Disease Threatens Texas Citrus

The first-known case of citrus greening disease in Texas was confirmed last month on a Rio Grande Valley orange tree. After getting the go-ahead, quarantined growers, pressed to move the last of the year’s oranges to market, cautiously resumed harvesting on Feb. 1. But they fear the disease could spread and seriously damage their industry.

Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, holds up copy of recently released independent copy of Texas border security during press conference at Texas Capitol on September 26th, 2011
Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, holds up copy of recently released independent copy of Texas border security during press conference at Texas Capitol on September 26th, 2011

Staples and Generals Call Out Feds on Border Security

The former head of the U.S. Armed Forces Southern Command said Monday that if the U.S. does not provide more support to Mexico, that country's next presidential administration may have no choice but to make a deal with cartel leaders.

Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples - August 29, 2011.
Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples - August 29, 2011.

Todd Staples: The TT Interview

  • 1Comment

The Texas commissioner of agriculture on the "catastrophic" devastation he's seen from the worst one-year drought in recorded Texas history, what the feds and state are doing and what needs to happen to cope with a potential multiyear drought.